When we decided on adopting a husky puppy, we read everything we could about the breed and its needs. Huskies aren’t the easiest dogs to raise and train. They are beautiful and very family friendly. They are great with other dogs and great with kids. However, they are stubborn and since their behaviour is still very close to their wild nature, they have a very strong hunting instinct. Knowing all this, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. At least, that is what we thought. I would have never expected that this other thing would be the hardest in raising a husky pup.
The importance of consistency
Being consistent in your training and in the rules you make for your dog is very important. By being consistent, your dog learns faster and you reduce the chances of stress. It is proven that being inconsistent raises stresslevels in dogs, since they don’t fully understand why something is normally not allowed but now is or vice versa. Even when they seem to have fun being allowed on the couch just for once or playing with your slipper on their birthday, it will cause more stress in the long run. Since stress can cause all sorts of mental and physical illnesses, it is something you normally want to avoid any excess of.
Especially smart dogs benefit from a more consistent approach. They are the ones questioning the “why now?” even more than any other dog will. They will try to find the loopholes in the rules, causing you more frustration and thus also more stress. I often feel mean or “unfun” doing this and I am also never as consistent as I really want to be, however the above is something I always strive for. Both for my own wellbeing as for the mental and physical wellbeing of my dog.
Knowing all the quirks of the breed, we knew we would need to spend a lot of time on training, socialization and consistency. However, something I didn’t expect was how inconsidered some dog owners are. The idea for this article came to mind when we were eating in a restaurant with Nalle laying below our table. We love to eat out, so we find it important for her to get used to the environment of a restaurant and feel relaxed and comfortable in it. She also needs to know that she needs to stay below or beside our table and that other people and dogs can be ignored.
She was doing very well on this, until two men with a small dachshund were coming in. The dachshund walked close by our table while barking like a maniac. We were very proud of Nalle ignoring this behaviour and staying below our table. On our way of getting her a little treat for her good behavior, one of the men came to our table with the dachshund, clearly encouraging the dogs to play.
In a flash I thought of putting my hand towards the man in a stop sign. Giving me the time to say: “please not here, but we can go outside if you want.” However, being my mostly introverted me, I didn’t. I knew there wasn’t an immediate threat and I just let it all happen. The dogs played for a while and when the man went back to his table, Nalle soon became relaxed again.
Knowing the next time another dog will walk into a restaurant, chances are that Nalle won’t stay below our table because she knows there might be a chance of play, I got very angry with myself. Why didn’t I act at my first impulse? Why do I always want to appear polite towards everybody? Teaching myself that not being 100% polite towards one person, can safe me a lot of impoliteness in the future, is really hard. If I had been more consistent in my rules and maybe annoyed this man a little bit, I would have saved the stress of a barking and pulling dog in the middle of a restaurant later on. I would have saved the dozen of faces, telling me to keep my dog under control.*
* Okay this didn’t accutally happen later on, but it could have.
Why is it so hard?
People judge other people, a lot. I don’t know exactly why we do it, we just do. For me, the judging is like a rating. I want to be liked by everyone. I know this isn’t possible, but still I do. I try not to judge others for how they raise their dogs. They know the breed and karakter of their own dogs better than I do, so they are the ones that can decide on how to raise their pups. Even though this is my way of thinking, I am always scared that other people will judge me by how I raise my dog. Scared they think that my dog isn’t allowed to play with other dogs, (she is, only not when “working”), scared they think my dog is false and become scared of her.
The hardest thing of raising a husky puppy is to learn what my boundaries are. Exploring where my boundaries are and how I can firmly but politely clarify these to other people. Getting out of my comfort zone in order to raise a more reliable and more friendly dog and doing this for me and not for them.
Even when I get out of my comfort zone and tell both a bystander and my dog that I want Nalle to keep all four paws on the ground and not jump on other people, I often get the response: “I don’t mind, I am used to dogs and she’s very sweet.” and I am back to not saying anything and thus being inconsistent.
What do you think is the hardest thing in raising a puppy? and how do you handle communication with other dog owners? All tips are welcome!